If you were like me, you noted the passing of Tom Wolfe on Tuesday by doing an internet deep dive — which in my case turned up his IMDb page and the surprising screenplay credit (later updated) for the 1998 Chris Farley-Matthew Perry comedy “Almost Heroes.”
But no, the famed paragon of New Journalism is not the same Tom Wolfe who co-wrote Farley’s last big-screen role, a Hollywood bomb that grossed a paltry $6 million and boasts an abysmal 8 percent on RottenTomatoes. (For comparison, Brian De Palma’s 1990 bomb based on Wolfe’s novel “The Bonfire of the Vanities” has a 16 percent RT.)
I managed to track down the “Almost Heroes” screenwriter, who shared credit on the script with his then-writing partners Mark Nutter and Boyd Hale.
“Not sure why I was ever credited on ‘Almost Heroes’ as Tom Wolfe,” veteran TV writer Tom Wolfe said via email, explaining that most of his other credits are listed under the name Thomas R. Wolfe. “I have mostly written in TV with my wife, Barbara Wallace.”
IMDb is not the only outlet that has confused its Wolfes. Thomas R. Wolfe remembered several other occasions when he was mistaken for the man he called “the other Tom Wolfe (the white linen suit ‘Right Stuff’ one).”
He remembered receiving a call in 2000 when he and his wife were working on the short-lived CBS sitcom “Welcome to New York” that they had co-created: “Someone asked if I was THE Tom Wolfe. I said no. The caller thanked me and hung up. A few seconds later he called back and said, ‘Do you have the other Tom Wolfe’s number?’”
A few years later, he received an offer from The Paris Review to write an essay. “I called them back and told them they had the wrong Tom Wolfe,” he said. “I wish now I had written the essay and found out what they thought of my writing.”
Thomas R. Wolfe shrugged about the fate of “Almost Heroes,” a period piece directed by Christopher Guest (yes, that Christopher Guest) in which Farley and Perry played rivals of explorers Lewis and Clark. “It is a familiar lament of writers but the original screenplay was really funny and then… oh well,” he said.
Read more about the story here.